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Blue Bike Meets Frank Gehry Meets General Motors


Perhaps the solution for our urban parking concerns lies not in how we design and allocate the spaces but in a radical rethink of how and what we drive.

“Imagine a shopping cart – a vehicle that can stack – you can take the first vehicle out of a stack and off you go.”


In development for over four years at MIT, a new stackable and highly customizable concept two-person car with styling direction from starchitect Frank Gehry explores the idea of using a fold-up form to increase available parking space in urban centers, among other benefits. The electric, and thus emission free, system doesn’t use an engine; power comes from wheel robots that allow omni-directional 360 degree vehicle movement.
The creators of this city-car concept envision a scenario where stacks of these are placed at high-congestion centers like transportation hubs, where people could remove one from a line of unused vehicles and drive to their destination. General Motors has agreed to build the first prototype and a public test is likely to be conducted in Hong Kong or Singapore.
The Guardian has the whole story.
Here’s a look at some of the very early conceptual renderings. Click on the image for a larger view.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • REBECCA

    I THINK THAT THIS IDEA WOULD PROBABLY WORK…
    I SAY GO FOR IT …….

  • Joseph

    I think this idea would solve a major traffic problem in urban environments. It would be hard to get the people who have to have a nice vehicle with expensive rims to drive something like that. Maybe providing a seperate lane for these carts would be a early solution

  • Matt

    If it’s stackable what’s to stop you from getting “stacked” at 30 from an oncoming mom in an SUV? Not only that what about the stuff you want to travel with. Many people keep extra clothes and other junk in their car during the workday. If you have to carry it around it becomes an inconvience. A very imaginative concept, very practical, just highly improbable. America still wants large cars/trucks, they just want the gas mileage of a bicycle.

  • If this goes in effect then would this mean everyone with a driver licence has access to these vehicles. Shopping carts are for everyone meaning would these vehicles be used by everyone. I mean no one would be able to leave stuff in their own car due to the fact that the next person that needs a car may just pick up theirs?

  • i think this can be a substitute for public transportation… like taxi.. or bus… but every parking lot should have a place to stack the cars.. otherwise you will be stuck with it… for example if you wanna go to a restaurant and they dont offer stacked parking then you have to keep paying until you return the car to a stacked parking lot…

  • mrfocus

    I can remeber hearing of another company (or possibly the same people) working on something like this, that would basically act like a train, though it would be automated, thus, let’s say I want to go to my workplace, I tell the computer I want to go there, and I connect to other people who are going to the same area, then I disconnect, and finish the rid to where I want to go.
    It’s a great idea, unfortunatley, considering this is mass transportation, people loose there freedom to decide where they want to go. Thus, I don’t think it would catch on quickly in the USA, the supposedley “land of the free” when your president is spying on you…

  • Anonymous

    What Mr. Focus said. Awesome idea. We should go for it. Istad of owning cars…we should own these things.

  • Josh

    What the, how would you transport things? Is that not the idea of the vehicle? For transportation of goods not just two human bodies? This is a terrible idea and a set-back, not an advancement. In order to change the world something radical has to happen. No vehciles altogether?

  • blah

    looks interesting.. but that means everyone uses your car?? if thats the case i think it’s not such a bad idea.. lol but what do you do if your car is under another one?? lmao.. makes sense if nobody will own the car.. but otherwise to me it doesnt.. I think as whatever72 said probably a good subtitute for taxi’s maybe..

  • Interesting concept, but I don’t understand if anyone can use anyone else’s car if it’s in the stack? What do you do if your car is 35th in the stack? do you just take the top car and run away? basically, every shares whatever care they get?

  • Dan

    very intestering… let see, to get this concept working, the car will not be own by individuals, instead, own by the city, due to the reason stated by mark above. Since the car is re-chargable, it should be only rechargable when stack, thus if one want to steal the car back home, which doesn’t have anyway to charge the car, it will be useless for them… please continue adding valid theory to this.

  • teslaman

    I think the basic idea is to use a vehicle to get from a to b. Say you go from a to b and stay 1hr. In that time 30 more are stacked on the one you used. No problem since they are like shoping carts you just take the one in front. You don’t need the one you had. You wouldn’t be leaving your stuff in it. I mean you don’t use a shoping cart and then leave your stuff in it for an hour in the cart return do you? It would be gone. These aren’t meant for you to use like a car. Personally I don’t like the idea. For one we all know how people are, the thing would be disgusting by the end of the day. Everything that can be done, would be done in it. And the only way to keep em nice would be to work it like a rental car. Pay for damages and such on completion of use. But since it would be used for high traffic areas no one would want to do that. Everyone in that situation is typically in such a hurry they wouldn’t want to mess with it. Unless you had to set up a autodebit method of payment before use. That way whenever you screw one up it just autodebits. But even then there would be a ton of screwups. Not to mention the constant normal cleaning the thing would need. I like the train idea, except subsitute normal cars. Retrofit exsisting cars with a magnetic connection system and program. That way we would all be connected and when you needed to go somewhere else you just pick the direction and the software determines the rest. Ex: cmd=next exit ; program sends info to connected cars to disconnect ; also sends command to connected cars in the exit lane to disconnect ; car switches lanes and reconnects. There would be much more involved but that gives you an idea. This would be ideal for rush hour traffic, instead of a flawed human brain to say, NO I am first, get outta my way you a**. It would just be a computer nicely determining the best traffic pattern and exit entrance times. Ahhhh now that sounds niiiccceee.

  • Mario

    there’re only one problem about this car, i think no much people is going to buy a thing like these…yeah it maybe fix a parking mess but what about the shape, the beauty, space and the price?? maybe it isn’t worth for many …
    In my little house would help, maybe i can park into my bedroom…
    Saludillos desde Mexico!!

  • WORMSS

    MrFocus: yes, i too remember the train idea.. kinda like a mix between a railway network and a taxi.
    if someone who was at the station wants to go to somewhere that is on the way or past a station of someone simular it would stop and pick them up too.
    i think they decided to scrap this idea for the purpose of, there are always brats out there that trash and grafitti anything thats is not thiers.
    and i think this car idea would be the same in the end. people would use the car, get to where they are going… and then leave all there rubish in there, or pour drinks [or worse] into the seats, and make it unbarable for the next person

  • Jim

    never
    going
    to
    happen

  • i think it will be rejected in the U.S where environmentalism is the least of peoples concerns. It will have possibilities in China and Japan and other high density urban zones.
    magnetic rail systems are more promising in my opinion.

  • anon

    looks fine, if ur japenese

  • What if you want to take your car out of the stack and its in the middle? Didn’t think that one through eh?

  • I like the city-owned shopping-cart/public transit concept the most.
    It’s a practical idea if you give your local economy time to catch up.(if the world doesn’t end first)
    Having computer contolled routes with these ‘carts’ attaching and de-attaching themselves at various places along the route would mean giving a computer contol over human life. And, unless it’s on RAILS, I don’t think that we’re anywhere close to allowing this to happen. Too unethical, costly and HIGHLY impractical. At least for a few more years.
    However, I could foresee a transit ‘bus’ sort of application. Where a bus ‘driver’ in the main unit tows these smaller units behind? interchanging them when necessary? How very science-fictiony! 😛 (not a word, I know)
    Otherwise, unlocking the first unit in the row by putting a five dollar bill in bumper, hopping in and zipping off at a WHOPPING 15 KPH to your destination across town could be feisable.
    It would take money out of the pockets of local law enforcement, however.
    And I can predict a rash of front-bumper thefts from parking lots. 🙂

  • adfadf

    totally gay

  • brent

    see i think that governments need to buy these cars to replace old cars, and you just pay to use the thing get out at your destination and then park it in the rack and thats that, go off and get in another one some where else, like the bike thing they got going on in some places, the need to be fast and economical, put in a few turbos, some solar panels, a stereo, why buy a car, when you can rent one for 5 min

  • Jared

    Transition would be difficult and deadly these things on city streets ? maybe on highways? well i guess you could call it population control.

  • Sione Vatu

    To be competitive with what we already can get this new vehicle needs to offer something extra, above and beyond what already exists. Otherwise why would people buy it? Well, says MIT, this car takes up less parking space. But the mechanism for it to do that means that it can’t be a private vehicle. So people loose the opportunity of ownership. As others have stated, that leads to issues of vandalism, damage and filth. Since people can’t buy this car, it becomes something for governments to purchase. We are looking at public transport here. Loser cruisers!
    So there are several attributes that are inferior to current product to balance against one possible improvement.
    Inferiorities.
    Can’t own one.
    Dirt, security, convenience, vandalism, hygiene.
    Small
    Public vehicle- stigma
    Convenience (collection, payment, return- you must return it to a designated location, availability, servicability, reliability)
    Liability issues (crashes, damage)
    Inability to convey correct social statement (which is why brand names and vehicle styling exist)
    Advantage
    Slightly less parking space required
    Is that likely to swing the balance in favour of this design?
    Are the other attributes better than currently available product? Not really. Congestion is still a problem for this car. Range is modest. It’s very difficult to argue a solid business case for it. Perhaps it might work out but I suspect it’s not enough of a real improvement. It’s not even a fashion statement (remember you can’ t own it).
    Conclusion. Engineers design cars. Media people do media. Architects do achitecture. There are reasons…